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With Studio Photo Shoots a No-Go, Asos Turns to Augmented Reality

Asos is giving shoppers a simulated view of what its new clothing looks like on a model―all while putting preventative measures in place to keep the models and employees alike away from COVID-19 risk. With augmented reality (AR) technology, shoppers will be able to view products similar to how they would see them on another person but in the e-commerce product-page setting.

This technology will simulate real-life model photography while Asos is opting not to work with models in its own studios due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asos will be digitally fitting six models in up to 500 products per week. By digital mapping each product onto the model in a realistic way, taking account of the size, cut and fit of each garment, the technology is designed so that product presentation remains as realistic and engaging as possible while supporting social distancing.

The decision to implement the AR feature is for the well-being of Asos staff and customers, while also ensuring the retailer continues to have new product releases each week that can provide customers with realistic product images.

The move comes as more fashion retailers are looking to deliver an in-store browsing experience to online retail through interactive and photorealistic 3D images that can be embedded into websites, mobile apps and AR/VR applications. In February, Burberry began experimenting with an AR shopping tool for its footwear, bags and clothing. Using Google Search technology, the AR platform enables Burberry shoppers to visualize products in real life by embedding visual representations in viewers’ surrounding environments.

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This need for visual experiences only became more pronounced as stores closed worldwide due to COVID-19. In April, French luxury fashion brand ba&sh invested in technology from 3D product imaging solution Cappasity to give stay-at-home shoppers an in-depth taste of what its products would look like in person.

The Asos technology, developed in collaboration with Israeli AR and AI company Zeekit, was trialed in January during the launch of the See My Fit tool, which is designed to help shoppers make more informed purchasing choices by better showing how garments look on models that more closely reflect individual customers. The See My Fit tool digitally maps the product on 16 different models in sizes four to 18.

Asos is the first retailer in Europe to trial the technology, and in 2018 first tested Zeekit’s technology, which automatically displayed products on up to four different models.

Without a brick-and-mortar presence, Asos has delved into various technologies in recent years to make up for the lack of in-person experiences shoppers often seek out in a store. In 2018, Asos introduced Fit Assistant, which uses machine learning to deliver personalized sizing recommendations for Asos customers. In June, Asos tested Virtual Catwalk, an AR experience that enabled shoppers to view models as if they are walking in the room with them.

Alongside the most recent collaboration with Zeekit, the U.K.-based online fashion retailer is using more “flat shot” images where items are photographed on a hanger rather than a model. ASOS Insiders and models will continue to shoot product from quarantine.